In Digest, Media critique, Ukraine

Article published in The Guardian, March 2, 2015

Russia Today (RT.com) is to be investigated by Britain’s media regulator Ofcom over anti-western comments in a late-night discussion on Ukraine – its sixth ongoing inquiry into the Kremlin-backed news channel following complaints by viewers.

RT in Britain

RT in Britain

The regulator, which threatened Russia Today, or RT, with statutory sanctions after repeated breaches of broadcasting regulations on impartiality last year, faces a new investigation over its Crosstalk programme broadcast on 23 December last year. The programme is understood to have featured a number of anti-western views in the discussion between the presenter and three studio guests, prompting one viewer to complain.

RT was summoned to a meeting with Ofcom last year after four separate reports, all broadcast in March last year and all dealing with the situation in Ukraine, were judged to have breached the code governing UK broadcasters.

RT, which began broadcasting in the UK nine years ago and a launched a dedicated UK channel last year, has previously breached UK broadcasting regulations on 10 occasions on a wide range of issues, including due impartiality, graphic images, and issues related to advertising.

Put on notice by Ofcom since its most recent breach last November, if the channel is deemed to have breached due impartiality rules again the regulator will consider taking further action, including the possibility of a fine.

It is the sixth ongoing investigation into RT and the third to relate to its coverage of events in Ukraine.

Ofcom was already investigating the channel’s 13 July programme The Truthseeker: Genocide in Ukraine, which was broadcast on the RT channel in Europe but not in the UK, and its 18 July documentary, Ukraine’s Refugees.

Separately, Ofcom launched two investigations into RT’s Syria coverage, both relating to its broadcast, The Truthseeker: Media ‘Staged’ Syria Chem Attack, on 23 March last year.

The regulator is also looking into graphic images of an Isis gunman shooting a row of people, broadcast on RT on 20 August last year.

An Ofcom spokesman said: “Ofcom has launched an investigation into whether this programme about the situation in Ukraine, which included anti-western comments, was duly impartial.”

A spokeswoman for RT said that Ofcom had assessed the channel’s coverage of the crash of MH17 “with regards to bias and has not found any problems that merited investigation, nor any breach of standards”.

Read also:
RT cleared over coverage of MH17 crash reporting after complaints to Ofcom, RT.com, Jan. 15, 2015

Julian Assange talks to RT: ‘They’ll try to shut you down’, RT.com, Dec 9, 2014

 

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